Words from the Heart for Tuesday August 16th, 2016
However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
1 Peter 4:16 (NIV)
Suffering for Christ
Christians will find themselves in difficult situations. Our focus, however, is not on the difficulties we face because we are Christians, but the privilege that we belong to God and are known as a follower of Jesus Christ. Thank God today for the privilege of being a part of the family of God.
As I write this I am at 35,000 feet somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean after being away visiting ministry sites for the past three weeks. I visited regions of the world where Christians are suffering for their faith in Jesus Christ. We met one man whose arm is permanently misshapen and unusable because of a beating by some people in his village who didn’t like the fact that he had become a follower of Jesus. Another man, a leader of his denomination, told me that he spent over a year in prison because he was preaching the Gospel and the government authorities didn’t like it. While in prison he was beaten, his nose broken and his face cut. In Canada these stories seem hard to believe. But they are all too common in many parts of the world today – including countries you wouldn’t believe.
Over the past 14 years I have had the incredibly humbling experience of meeting many brothers and sisters in Christ who have suffered terribly simply because they love the Lord Jesus. But not one have I ever heard them complain. In fact, the opposite is true. They speak of the opportunities it gave them to share the Gospel and the hope they have in Christ. One pastor said he prepares two sermons each week – one for his congregation and the other to share with those in prison in case the authorities break in during the worship service and arrest him. The Apostle Peter knew what it was to suffer for Christ and tradition tells us that he died a martyr’s death by being crucified upside down. He writes this in his first epistle to a church that was facing difficult times. 1 Peter 4:16 says “However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.” Here in Canada the worst that most of us face is being misunderstood and mocked for our faith. Even if this is the case, never be ashamed to be known as a follower of Christ. As Christians, we bear a great name – we are followers of Jesus the Christ, the promised One of God who came to this world that He loved so by His death He can win hearts back to Himself. That is nothing to be ashamed of.
These have been words from the heart.